In Flipping the Switch, the companion book to QBQ!, we teach five “Roadblocks to Learning.” One of them is Exclusion, and it’s all about when we, based on our faulty assumptions of people around us, fail to learn from them.
Early in my speaking career, sometime in 1996, I came down from the platform after a talk to shake hands and enjoy the moment. I was feeling good because I thought it was one of the best presentations I’d ever delivered, and the response from the audience seemed to confirm my impressions.
After the excitement had died down and the crowd had left, I noticed one person still in the ballroom. She was the “event planner” who had coordinated the meeting, and I certainly wanted her feedback.
Actually, looking back all these years, I wanted her praise.
But I knew she was totally underwhelmed when all she said was, “Thanks for coming, Mr. Miller. Your taxi is waiting.”
After a little coaxing, she gave me her critique: There was something about my style of delivery that interfered with the message for her. She simply did not like it.
I smiled and thanked her for her candor. But let me tell you what I was really thinking. It’s not pretty, but it’s real:
What do you know? You’re not a speaker. You’ve never done what I just did! Most people couldn’t lead three of their best friends in silent prayer! Look what I just did for an hour in front of 200!
I had not heard her because I had EXCLUDED her.
I eroded her credentials, marginalized her input, and dismissed her criticism because I believed she couldn’t possibly understand what it’s like to do what I do. Through my own arrogance and prejudice, I decided she didn’t “belong to my group,” and, thus, her opinion was unworthy.
As I flew home that evening, I considered her input and admitted that her point was valid. She was right. She had shared an insight that, as it turned out, helped me a great deal when I applied it in my next engagement.
We use Exclusion every day against people who are different from ourselves, in all walks of life …
- The salesperson rejects input from Marketing, thinking, They’ve never been in the field.
- The executive doesn’t listen to the administrative assistant because, Well, what could she possibly know?
- The doctor rejects the nurse’s opinion, telling herself, She didn’t go to medical school for twelve years.
- The mom or dad ignores the child’s opinion due to this outdated belief: Parents always know best. (More here about being a great parent)
- The older colleague fails to hear the younger one, wanting to admonish, After you experience more life, you’ll understand.
- The educated person with three degrees and numerous letters trailing their name thinks, I went to The University and you only attended that school, so …..
Exclusion. Just one of five “Roadblocks to Learning.” Let’s each practice personal accountability and commit to growing beyond this extremely human habit today!
Who have you excluded recently? Go ahead, flip the switch and hear what they have to say. Tell us about it in the Comments section below!
In this week’s give-away, two winners* (selected randomly by RaffleCopter) will win an autographed copy of Flipping the Switch … Unleash the Power of Personal Accountability.